Overcoming the Old Challenges with the Latest Legal Technology Platforms
Lawyers today hardly seem like the Luddites of yesteryear. Nevertheless, many corporate counsels still handle their legal documents and processes manually — and, as a result, face the same old organizational challenges. They struggle to manage their everyday workloads, which are worsened by the increasing volume and complexity of contracts, for instance. They leave themselves exposed to a number of risks, like those intrinsically tied to regular or political changes.
However, there is good news. According to McKinsey Global Institute, more than a quarter of lawyers’ work can now be automated. This represents a massive opportunity for corporate legal departments to truly transform, whether in form or function. And the technology that best facilitates their digital transformation at present is a legal technology platform. This more unified system offers the robust features and advanced functionality that legal teams need the most these days. They help streamline processes — from contract lifecycle and intellectual property (IP) management to GDPR and RFP review — and give a much fuller picture of the data that legal holds.
But first, here’s a little more on those challenges teams continue to face.
Facing Hurdles in Legal
In an ever-changing legal industry, corporate counsels and other legal professionals come across many hurdles today. These make it difficult to improve legal processes, follow new rules and regulations in countries, and protect the underlying interests of organizations. The main issues, according to Gartner and World Commerce and Contracting (World CC), include the following:
- Contract and other legal document backlogs
- Constant legal data overload
- Ongoing regulatory changes
- No centralized control of legal documents
- Failure to engage stakeholders effectively
- Lack of legal document visibility
Partly as a result, the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) reports that only 24 percent of chief legal officers (CLOs) are “very confident” in their company’s existing ability to respond to a certain type of risks. In ACC’s “Chief Legal Officers 2021 Survey,” half of the survey respondents also said they are either “moderately concerned” (32 percent) or “very concerned” (18 percent) that changing data privacy laws could affect their organization negatively. And nearly two-thirds of survey respondents expect the volume of regulations affecting the overall business to increase during the next year.
But when asked by ACC what issues demand the most effort and resources, 21 percent of CLOs said “significant transactions.” Mostly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, mergers, acquisitions, spin-offs, divestitures, and other business combinations are a much bigger reality for legal professionals. A high percentage of CLOs also said “intellectual property” (IP) and “enterprise digital transformation.”
But their outlook is rather positive all the same. Forty-two percent of CLOs told ACC they plan to adopt legal tech — over the next 12 months — to make their departments more efficient. Meanwhile, 10 percent said they have already done so. And among those planning on adopting legal tech solutions this coming year, 67 percent aim to invest in contract management technology, specifically.
Moving Forward with Legal Technology Platforms
As pointed out above, legal technology platforms are the most holistic solutions — for contract management and other functions — currently available. Such unified systems succeed in bringing together people, processes, and important legal data. Think of them as providing a ‘single source of truth’ for all legal operations and workflows. And by helping to automate legal departments, they allow corporate counsels to simplify and speed up their legal management; make more informed, strategic decisions; and create long-term value for their organizations.
Broadly speaking, legal platforms are characterized by their:
- Integration of disparate processes, methodologies, and systems or applications
- Consolidation of data across digital tools, departments, and geographies
- Advancement of capabilities — to enable the configuration and extension of the solution
- Incorporation of various AI-driven components — to facilitate advanced review of legal documents
- Robustness of business intelligence tools — for oversight and analysis of legal, risk, and compliance work
Looking Toward the Future of Legal Technology Platforms
In his 2017 book, Tomorrow’s Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future, Richard Susskind points out that legal institutions and lawyers are at a crossroads. “[They] will change more radically in less than two decades than they have over the last two centuries,” Susskind writes.
But the corporate counsels who adopt a legal technology platform may find themselves the furthest along in the digital transformation journey. Ultimately, these systems vastly improve the capabilities of legal teams and operations, as well as other parts of the organization. They provide complete visibility and control over all legal documents, not to mention a far deeper understanding of everybody’s legal commitments.
If you want to learn more about unifying your legal processes and software, be sure to read our latest paper, “Rise of the Legal Platform.” It offers an overview of legal management systems that help redefine how teams execute tasks and deliver value to enterprises.
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